Former Washington tight end Chris Cooley remains realistic about his possible comeback, but he says that he doesn’t anticipate a team signing him before training camp, John Keim of ESPN.com writes.
“I’m not holding out hope,” said Cooley, who last played in the 2012 season.
Interestingly, even though he spent his entire nine season career in Washington, he is prohibited by NFL rules from signing with them for the 2015 season. Teams are prohibited from signing a player in the same year that it’s already paying for a different service. In addition to his daily radio show, Cooley serves as an analyst on Washington games. Cooley confirmed that he did have discussions with the Cardinals, but they no longer have a need after they signed Jermaine Gresham.
“I will absolutely continue to work out,” Cooley said. “And look towards realistically a later date in someone’s camp after an injury were to occur or even into the season, which I would be fine with. It would probably have to be a team that realistically has a chance of winning this year. Teams that don’t have a chance of winning don’t sign 33-year-old tight ends.”
Cooley was just 30 when he decided to walk away from his NFL career and start a new one in sports radio. Cooley was cut by Washington in training camp in 2012 but was brought back during the playoffs when Fred Davis went down with an injury. That offseason, Cooley was leery of playing for anyone but Washington and he intimated that his asking price was higher than the offers he was receiving from other teams.
The tight end wound up signing a radio deal, though the contract included an out in case a football opportunity emerged. Two NFL assistant coaches, including Jay Gruden who was with the Bengals at the time, informed him of their interest only to be told that Cooley was done. Given Gruden’s previous fondness of Cooley and the tight end’s deep connections to Washington, one can’t help but wonder if there could be a connection in D.C.
In nine seasons with Washington, Cooley hauled in a total of 429 receptions – the all-time high for any tight end in franchise history – 4,711 yards, and 33 touchdowns. The veteran made his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2007, catching 66 balls for 786 yards and 8 touchdowns. He followed that up in 2008 with another Pro Bowl appearance thanks to his 83 catches, 849 yards, and one touchdown. In both campaigns, Cooley started in all 16 regular season contests.
Cooley will presumably be open to all opportunities but he says that he’s not expecting a call from the Falcons. According to Cooley, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan kept Cooley off the field in 2012 because he believed that he had nothing left in the tank.